#477 Starting the lawnmower on the first pull

Time for a trim.

Yes, step into those grass-stained workboots, toss on a faded ballcap, and roll the rusty mower out of the wobbly tin shed. You’re about to spend an hour mindlessly chopping lawn so stare at those grass-covered wheels, duct-taped wires, and chippy paint patches before getting down to business.

Now, if you’re like me then before pulling that cord you sort of get it in your mind that you’re in for three or four full-body yanks before that machine starts purring. I don’t know about you, but since I’m a limp, wimpy noodle of a man I find pulling that cord about as physically draining as benchpressing a full keg of beer, building a house out of boulders, or dragging an 18-wheeler up a steep hill with a rope.

See, I put my whole body into it and just get some slow sputtering. Wheeze, wheeze, die, you feel me?

But hey, that’s what makes it great when us noodles  pull those cords and they start up on the first pull. Now when the motor starts up and the gas fumes float up we suddenly get to feel like the World’s Strongest Human.

Yes, pass the black spandex shorts, tattoo a skull on our neck, and toss us some barbells, baby.

We’re going in.

AWESOME!

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– Email message –

“So I finally bought The Book of Awesome! I’m addicted to books, so for the past while whenever I went to the book store, I kept seeing your book. Annnnnd every time I would pick it up and open to a random page and read it. Automatically I loved it. However I was broke until this past weekend. Its probably one of my favourite books because when I’m feeling down, I just open it up and I feel better. Oh and today I made homemade pizza. It was the best, its one of those things that make me happy because its fresh and you feel proud that you made it. Maybe it will become one of the 1000 awesome things, because it is pretty awesome?” – Tiffany

Photos from: here, here, and here

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#478 Hearing a song that reminds you of someone you love

The song starts up.

Suddenly your brain flashes back to late nights lying on the faded corduroy couch with your first boyfriend. Scratchy records spin in the background, the TV flickers on mute, and you cuddle under thin blankets while everyone sleeps upstairs. The chorus builds up as you kiss in the shadows by the ping pong table …

The song starts up.

Memory jolts zoom you to late night teenage dance parties when everyone drove rustbuckets to the dark city park and met for sneaky cigarettes, sweaty swingset rides, and dirty dancing under the dim moonlight as cars cranked Top 40 tunes in the parking lot …

The song starts up.

A homemade mix tape is slipped in your hand from a star-crossed lover before a long summer vacation. You lay in bed listening to the slashy first chords and boom-dropping bass again and again as your heart twists and turns for Labor Day …

The song starts up.

And sends you way back.

AWESOME!

– Email message –

“Today I cocooned at my parent’s cottage, curled up on a comfy 30 year old La-z-boy recliner to read The Book of Awesome. I can think of no better way to spend a rainy Sunday. Wearing my sweat pants I fondly remembered my Mom’s white ’95 Chevy Lumina, nicked named “The Dustbuster” (because it looked like one of those re-chargable vacuums) and the amazing power of orange slices. I laughed out loud a dozen times and just yesterday I walked through a department store door as it was closing, with out touching it. It felt great!” – A.J.

Photos from: here and here

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#479 Watching soccer and actually seeing a goal

Did you play soccer as a kid?

I did and let me tell you something, brother: it wasn’t pretty.

Nope, I was a baggy-shorts wearing, skinned-knees masterpiece of fumbly awkwardness. I would strap my glasses around my head, velcro up my sneakers, and keep the bench warm in case someone got hurt. My appearances were always marked by dark sweeping clouds, sudden hail storms, and my parents sitting on the sidelines in plastic lawn chairs with hot tears in their eyes as I brought down our family’s good name one defensive miscue at a time.

On the plus side, most of our childhood games featured a dramatic and neverending display of our team’s best offensive strategy: The Amoeba. Basically, we would get into a giant, snot-nosed clump of dirty running shoes and hairless legs and run after the ball in a Braveheartesque death charge, only with less face paint and more grass stains.

When The Amoeba slid down field we’d leave our goalie all alone and he’d become a quiet six-year-old study in zen mastery. Yes, we’d be rushing away and he’d absentmindedly play with his shoelaces, catch grasshoppers, or stare deep into the core of the sun.

When The Amoeba slid down field we were unstoppable. We’d kick ball after ball to the back of the net and then run around like maniacs. Most of our goals went in because their goalie was busy studying zen mastery as well.

And sure, our games lacked acrobatic scissor-kicks, field-length boots, and curvy corner shots, but they sure had goals and plenty of them.

Yes, it’s always electric when careful criss-crossing climaxes in booming shots to the back of the net. And it’s always a bit disappointing when it doesn’t.

It sure is great watching soccer and actually seeing a goal. So just hold your breath, cross your fingers, and pray it eventually happens.

AWESOME!

– Email message –

“I asked for The Book of Awesome as a gift from my stepmother who bought it for me in Canada. It came all the way from Montreal to Durban South Africa via Ethiopia and Johannesburg. It’s a well travelled book and I love it. Here is a picture with Durban Stadium and the ocean in the background. The Book of Awesome is at the World Cup!” – Kim

(Note from Neil: If you take a picture with The Book of Awesome at this year’s World Cup, email it to me at 1000awesomethings at gmail. I’ll mail you a thank you gift!) 

Photos from: here, here, and here

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#480 Taking Friday off

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#481 Licking all the flavor off your fingers

Get your snack on long.

Get your snack on strong.

Yes, as your movie-watching group melts into the couch for some lazy, late night, limbs everywhere screen time, there’s nothing finer than pouring Pepsis and passing around potato chips, cheesy puffs, and crisp-cracking nacho snacks.

People, life’s too short not too snack when we feel like it so keep snacking till you’re lying around with slow smiles, big crumbs on your shirt, and bright red fingers painted with barbecue hues, MSG marks, and Dorito dyes.

When you reach Total Snack Nirvana you’re loving the moment, but you’re sadly stuck with pasty mortar on your fingers that needs cleaning before getting red skid marks on the carpet, couch, or cat.

You know what to do.

Take a deep breath and slide those dayglow orange digits into your mouth to slowly savor the sweet salty encore of the snack you just scarfed down. Sure, sure, the curtain has dropped on those bowls of salty pleasure, but you stood whistling shouting ‘Bravo!’ long enough for it to come back for one final fleeting performance.

AWESOME!

The Book of Awesome is out in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Holland, France, and Germany.

– Email message –

“Hey neil! I got back from Europe and guess what I got as a welcome home present!?! If you said The Book of Awesome you’re 100% right! Of course I devoured it right away and as I was walking to class my friend noticed it peeking out of my bag. She grabbed it and started asking me about it and then I spent the next three hours reading aloud from the book to my friends! Everyone says I have a good voice for reading out loud, and it’s way more fun than keeping it all to myself!” – Reba

Photos from: here, here, and here

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#482 When your shoes are tight enough to stay on your foot but loose enough to slide on and off without untying them

Congratulations on reaching Total Shoe Actualization.

AWESOME!

– Email message –

“Hi Neil! I got my book of awesome in the mail last week. It is fun to read and it smells like a book should. Thanks!” – Avi

Photo from: here

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#483 Do Nothing Days

It’s like a mirage.

You see that distant Do Nothing day coming up on the horizon of your kitchen calendar. You stare at its white squarey blankess beckoning you closer and closer and closer. Time moves forward, days march on, and still nothing gets planned on that beautifully perfect patch of nothingness. No homework, no dinner dates, no sports practices, no visiting mates. It’s just you and you sharing a nice peaceful moment of alone time.

When you’re lucky enough to score a Do Nothing day, do yourself a favor and do nothing. Give your brain a break and slip into easy bliss of lying in crumpled sheets, taking a long bath, and ordering out for dinner. Ditch the guilt while you swing in a hammock, cuddle with your cat, or curl up on the couch in front of the TV.

Once in a while it’s good to enjoy a completely unproductive daydreamy day with a slow smile and no worries.

You earned it.

AWESOME!

Thank you for making The Book of Awesome a #1 bestseller!

Sign up to receive a daily dose of awesome in your email.

– Email message –

“as soon as i saw there was the book of awesome i knew it would be the go to gift for all my friends (especially those slightly pessimistic ones) my little bit of awesome?  (Besides working close enough to lake michigan that i can spend lunch there) After a night out with friends or at the bar, you are sound asleep when suddenly you bolt upright and panic! did you grab your credit card from the bar tab? did you leave you camera on the counter? is your cellphone still in a cab someplace? you scramble out of bed and check your pants pockets, your hoodie, a purse until you find all of your belongings and can sink back into a stress free sleep. awesome!” – jess
Photo from: here and here

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#484 Getting the Emergency Exit row on the airplane

You don’t want to sit next to me on an airplane.

Chances are good I’ll start drooling on your shoulder, accidentally crank your headset volume, or chat your ear off with boring anecdotes while you attempt to stare dreamily at cloudscapes out the window. Yes, you’ll politely nod and smile while I go on for half an hour about my terrible cell phone plan or the bloating I’ve been feeling lately. Honestly, if you end up sitting beside me on a plane I’ve got just one thing to say to you: Sorry.

Nobody can Party Save you now.

Now, I’ve only seen one successful strategy for avoiding the torture that is My Company. I took a flight recently where the woman next to me cocooned herself into a sensory deprivation chamber of headphones, blankets, and earplugs as soon as we sat down. She no doubt sensed my impending chat attack and defended against it immediately, even elbow-snagging the armrest for good measure.

Since the two of us happened to be sitting in the Emergency Exit row, I therefore became solely responsible for busting the door open if our plane crash landed. Yes, the flight attendant coached me on emergency moves and I nodded with steely eyes and firm lips while Snoozy Samantha snored on beside me.

After the plane took off I sat back in my chair feeling like the hero of the flight. After all, it could all come down to me. Sure, the harsh, unforgiving Andes might crunch our plane but they would never crunch my spirit.

As modest payment for accepting this critical role I scored some extra legroom to stretch out and relax. While everyone else had their knees in their laps, I was free to leg around freely, keeping my muscles warm and ready in case the going got tough.

Now, as if all that wasn’t good enough — the hero status, the legroom, the babes – there’s also one more big perk emergency exit row folks get for sitting there. They get out first.

Yes, when the inflatable slide pops open into the river or the flashing red lights shine a smoky path into the fiery forest, we are the Emergency Exit door kicker-openers …  running out first … leading the way … and saving the day.

AWESOME!

– Email message –

“Hi Neil, About twelve years ago I signed up for Big Sisters and was matched with Tiffany, an 11 year old creative spirit. We bonded instantly and spent many hours together doing awesome things. We then lost touch for a couple of years, but Tiff called out of the blue one day and we reconnected like there had never been a gap – (those types of friendships that last years of of space are truly awesome). Tiff has grown into a beautiful young woman and today I watched her graduate from college with tears of pride in my eyes.  I gave her The Book of Awesome as a present, and I tucked comments into the pages that rang true to me. I tucked money into the one about finding money in coat pockets. I added in a few words about how great it was to find money in books as well.” – Sandy

Photos from: here, here, and here

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#485 When someone saves you a seat

It’s time to get down with the get down…

At the movies! Your arms bearhug fat tubs of popcorn and slippery jumbo drinks as you blindly stumble down the dark aisle. You scan the chattery crowd dotting the red plushy tundra before noticing your friend thirty rows up giving you the two armed wave.

At the school assembly! You’re separated from your fourth grade soulmate and only see each other while double-dutching by the portables at recess. But then come student council speeches, music recitals, or a Thanksgiving play and suddenly your hearts spark again at the back of the bleachers.

 

At the concert! Boots up, you’re bumpily crowdsurfing at the front of the mosh pit. After you crash land on your neck in a dirty puddle of warm beer, your friend yanks you up by the wrist and squeezes you beside her right in front of the stage.

At the rocket ship before blastoff! You slept in and got stuck in highway traffic so now you’re chomping on a fistful of ice cream pellets while Velcroing your aluminum-foil-and-fishbowl getup together in the car. You arrive at the launchpad and race down the thin metal bridges into the ship as the engines fire up… and there’s Cindy! With a windbreaker lying on the window seat beside her.

Yes, when you spot a friend snagging you a prime seat it’s good times, it’s good times. After all, they’re expressing your friendship to the world by deciding twenty minutes of stinkeye is worth making sure you sit together. Now you get to chat, laugh, and love those good times with a close friend.

Buddy, I don’t know what you call that if you don’t call that

AWESOME!

– Email message –

“Neil, I’d been going through a rough patch in life. You know, bad day after bad day, glum songs always on my iPod, etc. I made my parents buy me The Book of Awesome and I hate to sound cliché but it totally changed my outlook on life and turned my pessimism into optimism. I started noticing awesome things in life. I noticed that although we have no ‘really really old Tupperware’, we do have old Cool Whip containers. People waving at me from their cars, the smell of gasoline. It’s just made life that much more awesome to me… thank you from a devoted reader.” – Jordan

Photos from: here, here, and here

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#486 Getting through right away when you call a big company

Thank you for calling.

We are experiencing lower than normal call volumes.

AWESOME!

– Email message –

“I got a call from my husband while I was at work that The Book of Awesome had finally arrived! I got the book the same day I found out I was pregnant! While I was sitting there waiting for the test, I flipped through the book and found a lot of my favorite awesome things. What could be more awesome than that? Baby and The Book of Awesome all in the same day!” ~Bekah….the green square  :-)

Photo from: here

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